This is part two of a three-part review of the final day of the Goregrowler’s Ball V. Part one can be found here.
Face of Oblivion have gained a lot of press lately as featuring the former vocalist of Origin, James Lee, who readers of this column will remember from Day One of the Ball as having done guest vocals for Enabler during their set. After a few sound hiccups, the band started their set which showcased a technical display of death metal with some highly impressive instrumental chops backed by Lee’s brutal vocals. Lee was quite the charismatic frontman, as he interacted well with the crowd and even grabbed a fan’s hat and wore it for several seconds if memory serves correctly. While the music wasn’t a favorite of this reporter’s, the band seemed to be very popular amongst attendees of the festival, with Face of Oblivion shirts all over the place, and it certainly wasn’t a bad performance, just not something that took me by storm. Guess it’s up to personal preference on this one, so my apologies to any Face of Oblivion fans reading this review.
Due to the dreaded overlap problem rearing its head again, we missed most of Engaged in Mutilating’s set. The San Antonio tech-death metallers are usually a strong force in the live environment, and in the brief time that we caught, this set appeared to be no different. Unfortunately, not enough of their set was witnessed in order to provide proper review, although I would like to applaud bassist J.R.’s killer Lividity shirt – you don’t see one of those every day!
If you’ve been to any local death metal shows in San Antonio or Austin over the last few years, you’ve definitely seen Disfigured (or one of the other bands “Metal Mike” de Leon and Rene Martinez are in), one of the most renowned bands in the TXDM scene. The band used this appearance to introduce new guitar player Phil King, who previously played in the now-defunct Prolicide, and he did an excellent job as a second guitar player, beefing up the already crushing sound of the band. There were, admittedly, a few sound issues chiefly dealing with the mic, although this isn’t a fault of the band’s, and the guitar and bass tone was quite bludgeoning while the drums rang through loud and clear. Metal Mike always knows how to get a crowd moving with his entertaining histrionics, and comparisons to Immolation’s Bob Vigna would not be inaccurate, whether one would be describing musical styling as well as stage presence. Vocalist Ryan Stallings remains an intimidating presence with his guttural vocals, although his comedic stage banter is enough to make the show not entirely terrifying. The new material sounded just as good as the old, and Disfigured’s consistency should be admired, to say the least. The band also had an excellent performance at the benefit show for Rottenness on Saturday, November 26th, which speaks for their ability to provide a massively entertaining live set.
Austin’s very own Images of Violence performed for the first time in four years at the Goregrowler’s Ball V, at their set stood out as one of the better moments from the third day of the fest. The reactivated death metallers featured several future members of Sarcolytic, including tattoo wizard Jon Zig, whose work is quite famous in the world of underground death metal. Seriously, you couldn’t throw a rock at this fest without seeing a shirt (or someone’s skin) bearing his artwork, and Images of Violence’s performance was just as brutal as the illustrations of their vocalist. The band ripped through a set of old material (“Pernicious Desire”, “Mephitic Possessor”) as well as a few brand new songs that meshed great with the classics. Guitarist Steven Watkins’s riffs manifested themselves in a chaotic way while being complimented by Mark Denton’s bass work and Larry Jackson’s impeccable percussive exercises. The low sound of the stringed instruments shook the entire venue, and the guttural vocals of Jon Zig echoed throughout the Korova like a demonic creature wailing in a cave, awaiting intruders with bated breath (strange analogies aside, you get my point). It may have been a full four years since the last Images of Violence show, but we can only hope that we won’t have to wait that long to witness another performance by these titans of Texas death metal.
This reporter had witnessed Ingurgitate once before at the inaugural Building Temples from Death festival in Houston back in September, and the band did an even better job at the Goregrowler’s Ball. Initially, Ingurgitate served as a one-man band with Chris Hutto serving as the sole songwriter, although the last two performances have seen the band perform with a full lineup featuring Dobber Beverly (also of Insect Warfare and many, many others) on drums, Keegan Kelly on bass, Mike Swearningen on vocals, and Anthony Contreras on second guitar. The musicians in the band were tight and had clearly honed their assault while the aforementioned Swearningen growled out deathy odes that were delivered effectively. The band ended their set with a brand new song, “Empty Monuments” which was quite a way to close out an excellent performance. Ingurgitate, along with San Antonio’s Hod, will be one of the featured artists on the Ossuary Industries “Limb Splitter” compilation album due next year, so as soon as more information on that release becomes available, we will let you know.
For more info: The conclusion of this saga can be found here.